In an effort to save money, I agreed to venture to the city sans our sitter at the request of my husband.
Most of the pictures make it seem like this kind of a trip:
But it was actually more like this kind of a trip:
(No this photo isn't from our trip but it very well cold have been.)
I should have known the temperature of what our day was going to be like when it started by our crew running to catch the train, a man getting frustrated at us for taking too long to buy our tickets, and then being forced to sit on the nasty floor of the train squeezed between five other not-so-friendly strangers.
Although my husband's qualities weigh farther on the side of fantastic, having compassion for anyone that is ill, crying or six months pregnant he does not. I quit counting after I carried a stroller with a 20 month old in it up and down 8 flights of subway stairs. I finally got smart and told him he could carry it by himself the last two flights we went on. What took me so long, I'll never know.
The Santa sleigh I insisted we go to in Grand Central ended up being closed although I triple checked the times of availability. There wasn't even someone working the area to let us know why. Only a big, fat, ugly sign sitting where my imagined Santa should be that said, "Area Closed".
We opted to head over to my next desired destination: Bloomingdales. Home of Marc Jacobs shoes, Burberry bags and a shorter Santa line than Macy's.
Then I realized the difference between the families with screaming children and the families with smiling children that passed us as we entered the 8th floor Santaland. The families with the happy kids were the ones that took one look at that ridiculously long line of mink-coat clad mothers with whining kids hanging off of them and said, "NO WAY!"
I believe this was the shortest amount of time my boots have ever stood on the grounds of 59th and Lexington.
(The only Bloomie's photo we did manage to get.)
We walked on over to what I coined to be the perfect holiday kids luncheon spot where cheesy holiday decor and sundaes abound: Serendipity.
Oh yeah, where I forgot to make a reservation. (NO smart New York City gal would do this.) A two hour wait.
That ugly green Grinch had taken hold of my day of carefully planned holiday adventure and was smothering the tinsel right out of it.
After admitting to my mom that my dreams of sharing a gigantic glass of frozen hot chocolate brewing with 5 straws for drinking had come to a screeching halt, we met up with my husband and three-year old son who was having one of the biggest cries I had ever seen him have.
I crouched down to ask him what was wrong and through a puffy red face and gigantic tears he told me he wanted to go put money in the machine for marbles (the gum ball machine at Dylan's Candy Bar right down the block).
I told him we could go do that and he looked up at Dave, yanked his tiny hand out of Dave's and angrily said, "stop it Daddy!" I had to be honest and admit to Hunter that although it was Daddy he was mad at, it was really Mommy who had given the directive to Daddy that he couldn't take Hunter to get candy. Daddy had wanted him to go. He promptly took Daddy's hand back and happily walked back to Dylan's--friends again.
Grammy and I followed suit strolling one screaming child trying her best to wriggle out of the buckled entrapment she was in. We barreled through a sea of black (the signature color of New Yorkers) until we finally entered what can only be described as the next best thing to Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory.
We exited with two cellophane bags of brightly colored gummy, sugary and chocolate decadence in search of a kid-friendly restaurant that could serve our hungry toddlers in 2.2.
Patsy's Pizza seemed like the perfect solution.
Unfortunately, the server lost our order so we waited almost an hour for our food while frantically trying to keep our marriage in tact as we suffered through one thrown glass pepper jar, one pizza knife flying through the air (the table next to us had a good arm thank goodness), three flat-on-the-floor meltdowns, many, many cross words BUT, (and I am most proud of this) bribery-by-candy only once.
We did manage to capture these photos which make the lunch seem anything but imperfect.
After we managed to escape Patsy's alive, we headed back to the train. It was nearing 2 pm and naps were not in my kids' future so I knew we needed to get them home and fast. We were able to squeeze in a quick trip to Magnolia Bakery, our favorite cupcake spot, to pick some treats for the long ride home.
Hunter could hardly contain himself waiting for the conductor to punch his ticket. Everyone on the train laughed as he yelled, "'ductor! 'ductor!"
Sadly, the conductor was a bit bah humbug and barely looked at the small boy beaming up at him with pride.
The ride home went a little something like this: crawling, running, falling, screaming, rolling, yelling, hitting, hanging upside down, "look at me Mommy! Look at me!"....
(If you could actually see the look on my face it reads, "yes, I see him doing that and I'm not saying a word. If it keeps him quiet for 30 seconds, I don't care.")
trying to make conversation with passengers who kept rudely saying "No!",
running, hiding, falling, crying, "Nooooo!", hitting, pinching, seat stealing, louder crying, pinching, spitting, running, falling, yelling, and much more crying.
Then there was the snickers, comments, and then cussing from the peanut gallery around us.
(There were also these rare moments of quiet.)
Exasperated, I felt a wave of relief when they announced our stop would be next. I have to kindly thank the two gentlemen who consoled me and made me feel like a trooper for taking my kids on the train and into the city anyhow.
My mom and I exited the train and attempted to carry a stroller filled with bags, coats and goodies down a long flight of stairs while holding prone-to-run-in-the-street-Hunter's hand and Emerson who had resorted to a full back arch screaming fit while many men just whizzed past us or stared. (Hmm, I often wonder if chivalry is really dead?)
Once we got to the parking garage I finally managed to get my one-shoed girl to walk (OK, hang) on her own
but, before I could breathe a sigh of relief was forced to chase my three year old through the mass of parked cars.
After wrangling both children I attempted to wriggle my way inside of our mid-size car since it had been parked in a "for small cars only" spot. Not easy when you have an enormous bump.
Good news is, I finally did squeeze my way into the driver's seat and Grammy and I got both crying kids into the car after I pulled out into the driveway to allow enough room to move.
Although Mom and I exchanged a few cranky words and held up traffic trying to break down a stroller, we managed to exit the parking garage unharmed much to the amusement of the security guards who had enjoyed the free entertainment.
We sat in silence for a few minutes and then I admitted that it had been the day from hell.
A little girl's timely snicker erupted from the back seat turning into a full guttural laugh that rippled through the rest of the car like a wave of sunshine. Two little people and two big people belly laughed for the next four exits of the highway.
As we pulled off to our street, I told my mom that all I kept thinking throughout the day was, "I sure wish someone would say, 'here, go sit down and relax a little, you could really use it' but then my wise mind's eye kicked in reminding me that these are the days. Through tears I admitted to her, "and yet I know one day I'll have that time to relax and kick my feet up and then all I'll do is wish I had this crazy, hectic time of my life back."
She agreed with me and said she had experienced her own moments where her adult children would do something touching and then the emptiness of her nest would make her long for those early days where she too had just wished for a brief moment of quiet solitude.
Thankfully, the rest of the night looked a little something like this:
And, I'm happy to report that the following day more than made up for that dreadful trip into the city with one tiny moment that transpired.
My mom, Hunter, Emerson and I were driving in the car and I had Christmas music playing very softly in the background. All of the sudden, Hunter points to the radio and says, "Mommy's song!" I had no idea what was playing so I turned it up and, it was my song--Kenny Loggin's "Celebrate Me Home".
Over two weeks ago I had turned on the radio and this very song was playing. I turned it up and Hunter started fussing saying he wanted his music. I replied by saying, "this is Mommy's favorite Christmas song. We listen to Hunter's music a lot and now I want to listen to Mommy's song."
The fact that he recognized the song so long after this transpired touched me. I couldn't help but let my eyes well up a bit. Sometimes I feel as if I'm in this journey of motherhood alone. But Hunter remembering this one special thing about me was so touching and unselfish. It made me feel pretty darn special too.
It is true what they say--the best presents come in the smallest packages. It's those little moments in life that make it big and full.
Here's hoping you recognize the littles in your day tomorrow and that these indeed ARE the days.
"This is the time to remember because it will not last forever; these are the days to hold on to because we won't although we'll want to." - Billy Joel